Drink driver fled from scene of South Shields crash after downing gin

A driver drunk who sped from the scene of a double road smash in South Tyneside has been branded a “coward” by a judge.

Saturday, 5th September 2020, 7:00 am
The case was heard at South Tyneside Magistrates' Court.

District Judge Kathryn Meek also told Justine McKenzie, 39, of Alice Street, South Shields, she lacked awareness of the dangers of drink-driving.

She heard how McKenzie had ploughed into a bollard and then twice into the same car in West Park Road, South Shields, at 8.15pm on Tuesday, March 17.

At South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court, Judge Meek said: “You irresponsibly and cowardly drove away so as not to be apprehended.

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“You are lucky that nobody was seriously injured. It was just damage to material things that can be repaired.

“You put every single road user’s life in danger, particularly when you are driving around and there are lots of cars and people around.”

She banned McKenzie from the roads for 24 months and ordered her to do 120 hours of unpaid work.

Prosecutor Grace Taylor said: “A witness saw the defendant driving her vehicle and collide with a bollard in the centre of the road.

“She then collided twice with the same parked vehicle, causing significant damage.

“She then left the scene at speed, but police attended her home within 30 minutes.

“Her car was in the driveway and the front was damaged. She said, ‘I’ve been driving. I hope I haven’t hurt anyone’.

“She failed a breath test. She was taken to the police station, where a CAMIC procedure gave a lowest reading of 90microgrammes.

“This offence is aggravated by the fact that she was involved in an accident and by her unacceptable standard of driving.

“She has two previous convictions for two offences but none that are relevant.”

The drink-drive limit is 35 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath.

The court heard the smash, in which McKenzie was driving a Vauxhall Astra, caused £1,500 of damage to the other vehicle.

Jason Smith, defending, said: “It’s quite a high level but it does not cross the custody threshold.

“She accepts that she would have been over the limit. The gins were perhaps of generous quantity and quite strong.

“She is back working. She is a key holder for various units and is often called out in the middle of the day or night.

“She also has a young child that she is responsible for.

“She would also like to do the drink-drive rehabilitation course, if you are inclined.”

McKenzie pleaded guilty to drink-driving, failing to stop after an accident and failing to report an accident.

She was denied the chance to sit the drink-drivers’ programme, which reduces a ban by 25% on successful completion.

Judge Meek said McKenzie appeared to pick and choose whether she admitted to being drunk – and denied her a place on the course.

McKenzie was handed an 18-month community order which carries a requirement to sit a drink impairment awareness programme.

She must also undergo 25 days of rehabilitation work with the Probation Service and pay a £94 victim surcharge and £85 court costs.

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